Northeast Times

One of the ‘Golden Girls’

Car­ol Snowden and oth­er mem­bers of the Class of 1963 re­cently walked up the aisle at the 2013 gradu­ation as 50-year gradu­ates, or ‘Golden Girls.’

  • Carol Snowden claps at the end of commencement. (Brad Larrison)

  • Carol Snowden and the rest of the ‘golden girls,’ seen in the background in yellow robes, clap at commencement. (Brad Larrison)

  • Carol Snowden looks on at the end of commencement. (Brad Larrison)

  • Carol Snowden claps at commencement. (Brad Larrison)

  • St. Hubert teacher Carol Snowden graduated from the school 50 years ago and has taught there for 46 years. Here she casually dances through the hallways and talks about her experience with her students, May 29, 2013, Philadelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouchnikova)

  • St. Hubert teacher Carol Snowden graduated from the school 50 years ago and has taught there for 46 years. Here she casually dances through the hallways and talks about her experience with her students, May 29, 2013, Philadelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouchnikova)

  • St. Hubert teacher Carol Snowden graduated from the school 50 years ago and has taught there for 46 years. Here she casually dances through the hallways and talks about her experience with her students, May 29, 2013, Philadelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouchnikova)

Like every­one in the St. Hubert com­munity, Car­ol Snowden was stunned in Janu­ary 2012 when an Arch­diocese of Phil­adelphia blue rib­bon com­mis­sion re­com­men­ded the clos­ing of the high school.

For Snowden, that meant the ap­par­ent end of her alma ma­ter and the school where she taught for 40-plus years. It was a mel­an­choly time.

“I was won­der­ing where the kids would go and how they would ad­just, and if they would feel like fish out of wa­ter,” she said.

Also, the school clos­ing meant she wouldn’t ex­per­i­ence a cer­tain spe­cial mo­ment.

“I kept say­ing I won’t be a Golden Girl,” she said.

But this story has a happy end­ing.

St. Hubert ap­pealed the de­cision, and alum­nae and friends raised $1.3 mil­lion in six weeks to help the school stay open and keep Snowden in the classroom. That also meant that Snowden and oth­er mem­bers of the Class of 1963 would be able to walk up the aisle at the 2013 gradu­ation as 50-year gradu­ates, or “Golden Girls.” Snowden, like oth­er fac­ulty mem­bers, wore a black robe, while the rest of the Class of ’63 donned gold robes.

The gradu­ation ce­re­mony was held last Wed­nes­day, June 5, at Holy Fam­ily Uni­versity. Earli­er that day, the Golden Girls met for lunch at Cannstat­ter’s.

The day, Snowden said, capped a tre­mend­ous year at the all-girls school at Tor­res­dale and Cottman av­en­ues.

The vet­er­an teach­er, 67, re­cited a bunch of pos­it­ives from the 2012-13 school year.

Claire Al­minde, she said, was a ter­rif­ic stu­dent coun­cil pres­id­ent. Teach­ing col­league and soft­ball coach Dave Schafer led the Bam­bies to the Dis­trict 12 Class AAAA cham­pi­on­ship. Girls seemed in­ter­ested in class work, even dur­ing eighth peri­od. The Bam­bie am­bas­sad­ors were great rep­res­ent­at­ives for vis­it­ing sev­enth- and eighth-graders. More than 180 girls are already re­gistered for next year’s fresh­man class. 

“The whole school was dif­fer­ent this year,” she said. “I loved be­ing here.”

Snowden has loved be­ing at St. Hubert for 50 years — four as a stu­dent and 46 as a teach­er.

In fact, the Ta­cony nat­ive — born Car­ol Per­golino — has loved all her school­ing. She stud­ied un­der the Sis­ters of St. Joseph at St. Leo Gram­mar School.

“I learned so much at St. Leo’s,” she said.

Next, she went to St. Hubert. She gradu­ated in a class of 575, and many of the St. Leo grads took part in the Golden Girl activ­it­ies.

When Snowden was a stu­dent at St. Hubert, there were six re­li­gious or­ders of nuns on the fac­ulty. She was a mem­ber of the ros­ary club and played the vi­ol­in in the or­ches­tra.

Her next stop was Im­macu­lata Col­lege, where she gradu­ated in 1967 with a ma­jor in his­tory and a minor in edu­ca­tion. She con­sidered law school, but de­cided to pur­sue a teach­ing ca­reer.

“Where else do you get to meet new people every year, in­flu­ence them and help them make ca­reer choices?” she said.

The Rev. Richard Si­mons, the prin­cip­al at St. Hubert, offered her a job mak­ing $4,800 a year.

“I was hired on May 30th of 1967, a week be­fore I gradu­ated. I was very ex­cited,” she said.

Once school star­ted in Septem­ber 1967, Snowden saw Miss Weed, her former gym teach­er.

“She said, ‘I need a cheer­lead­ing coach. It’s you,’ ” she re­called. “In those days, it was just rah, rah, rah, not stand­ing on top of each oth­er like they do now.”

Over the years, she’s been the mod­er­at­or for the stu­dent news­pa­per and the forensics club. In 1995, she be­came chair­wo­man of the So­cial Stud­ies De­part­ment.

Noth­ing has slowed her down, not even double knee-re­place­ment sur­gery in 2011.

Today, she teaches six classes, even though she’s re­quired to teach only four, be­cause of stu­dent de­mand for spe­cif­ic courses. She even has 36 girls in an ad­vanced-place­ment class meant for 25.

“I can’t in my heart say no,” she said. “I’m will­ing to do the ex­tra work. I don’t want them to have an­oth­er study hall.”

Snowden, a Rhawn­hurst res­id­ent who’ll turn 68 in Ju­ly, has seen plenty of changes over the years.

Former ath­let­ic dir­ect­or Pat Berry, she said, built up the sports pro­gram.

Tech­no­logy, of course, has changed the classroom. All fresh­men had iPads this year. Stu­dents are per­mit­ted to bring in laptop com­puters. Next year, they’ll be able to have cell phones on their desks.

The teach­ers uni­on star­ted dur­ing her time. The cur­rent pres­id­ent, Rita Schwartz, is a former St. Hubert teach­er and Snowden’s maid of hon­or at her wed­ding.

Snowden takes de­light in see­ing former stu­dents go on to suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sion­al ca­reers, in­clud­ing many who have re­turned as teach­ers.

She also poin­ted to Maur­een Mooney, who cap­tained the Im­macu­lata Mighty Macs to two col­lege bas­ket­ball cham­pi­on­ships; Katie Mc­Ginty, a cur­rent can­did­ate for gov­ernor; Fran (Pet­eraf) We­st­on, who served as a state rep­res­ent­at­ive; and Kathy Ott Lov­ell, ex­ec­ut­ive dir­ect­or at the Fair­mount Park Con­servancy and a lead­er in keep­ing the school open.

“I can still see her sit­ting in gov­ern­ment class,” Snowden said.

For Snowden, last week’s gradu­ation was an­oth­er in a long list of cher­ished mo­ments af­fil­i­ated with St. Hubert.

“I have so many great memor­ies around here,” she said. “I’m very lucky. I have the best job in the world.”

As for the fu­ture, Snowden said she is un­cer­tain when she will re­tire. 

“You have to be ready to re­tire. I’m not ready,” she said. “What would I do?” ••

You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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